NYT’s Paywall Looking Up, About.com Struggles; Social Spend Trend

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Banging On The Paywall

The New York Times reported its Q4 2011 earnings yesterday and the subscriber numbers were at 390,000 – that’s 20% higher that Q3. A nice quarter-over-quarter increase it would seem. Did you get/give a subscription as a holiday gift? Ken Doctor of Newsonomics points out, that the subscriber level may sound low when you compare it to the Times’ 33 million U.S. uniques, “but it’s 34% of its print circulation.” Doctor offers his view on the results, “It’s not the [the proof for] saving the newspaper industry, or even the Times, but it’s a strong indication that some readers will indeed pay for digital news access — and that paying for subscriptions opens other doors as well.” Read his detailed summary – including a compelling breakdown of digital revs. And, read the NYT’s earnings press release. Last but not least, read the earnings call transcript where NYT CFO Jim Folio comments on About.com fortunes in Q4: “Total revenues declined 26% to $26 million in the fourth quarter, with decreases in cost-per-click and display advertising contributed almost equally to the decline. About faced a variety of challenges in 2011, but we believe we are on the right path.”

Social Spend Trend

SEM platforms – now cross-channel buying platforms – continue to crank out the trend reports leveraging their customers data. Kenshoo reported yesterday that its social ad spend “customers spent 109 percent more on Facebook in Q4 of 2011 than they did in Q3. While some of this growth can be attributed to seasonality, the increase in global Facebook ad budgets compares favourably to search channels like Google, Bing, and Yahoo which, in aggregate, saw paid search ad budget growth of 27 percent globally on a quarter-over-quarter basis.” Read more.

Ad Network Apps

The ad-network-formerly-known-as-Travel-Ad-Network, Travora, is getting into the city guide business among other things. CEO Nan Forte (AdExchanger Q&A) says in the press release, “Through our partnerships with existing and new brands, we are supporting the creation, development, monetization and distribution of travel information products for mobile web and apps.” Read more. More evidence of ad networks moving into the content biz and using their “digital native” (love that phrase!) monetization skills. Others doing the same are Valueclick and Specific Media, for example.

Ad Network Targets Australia

Mobile ad network InMobi continues its expansion as this week marked the formal launch of its network in Australia. InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari tells The Australian, “Australia is very peculiar because the uptake on smart phones is significantly higher than other parts of the world. Therefore we are going to see large brands coming on to our platform because they can give the emotional connect with consumers.” Read it.

We’re Growing

Still more growth stats from ad-tech related companies as Underdog Media, led by former AudienceScience CEO Jeff Hirsch, says in a release that it’s experiencing “164% year-over-year growth, and (…) 97% year-over-year retention of revenue-producing advertisers” among other it sharing publicly. See the rest. The company positions itself as a “customizable media network.”

Amazon Buys Marketplace

Geek Wire gets the exclusive for the latest acquisition by Amazon which has purchased a marketplace, but not the one you were thinking of. Geek Wire’s John Cooki writes, “Amazon.com has acquired TeachStreet, the 5-year-old online marketplace that matches students and teachers. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but this is looking very much like a ‘talent acquisition.'” Read more.

Make Mine Digital

Jack Neff reports on Unilever’s year-end investor presentation in London and similar to P&ampG’s pronouncements on moving toward digital ad spend – Unilever is, too. Writes Neff, “As another example of Unilever making ad spending stretch farther, [Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc Huet] pointed to digital spending rising 15%, much faster than the overall rate.” Read more.

The Automation Reaper

In a think piece on Digiday, former About.com exec and current executive chairman of Halogen Media Peter Horan says the media world better wake up to the bulldozer of automation that’s coming: “It will crush the sites with weak brands and largely undifferentiated advertising products, but it will eventually affect even media properties with the most respected brands.” Oblivion awaits unless… Read it.

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